The organizers of the annual Memorial Day Parade in Maspeth will honor two decorated World War II and Korean War veterans during a special, post-parade ceremony on Sunday, May 25.
Leo Wasil was a airman who flew nearly three dozen combat missions during World War II and Anthony Simone was drafted during the height of the Korean War and served 18 months in the Army leading up to the end of the conflict.
Wasil, whose birth name is actually Wasilkowski, was born in Laurel Hill and raised in Brooklyn, where he was a student and altar boy at St. Stan’s in Greenpoint.
He voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, which later became the Air Force, during World War II, and was stationed in England.
Joined by his nine-man crew, Wasil flew 35 combat missions over Europe. The limit on combat missions that one crew could fly before they could return to the United States was originally 25, but that total was upped to 30 when Wasil and his tight-knit crew completed their 24th assignment.
When his crew finished their 29th mission, the limit was once again increased to 35.
Once Wasil had finished his 34th mission, he insisted his crew would fly only one more time. His protest worked and his plane was taken off the flight line upon completion of his 35th assignment.
Upon his return stateside, Wasil shortened his last name and married Amelia Puisys. The couple moved to Maspeth and Wasil continued to serve, this time as an NYPD officer for 23 years.
During his time in the Army Air Corps, Wasil was honored with the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal and the Warsaw Uprising Cross.
Today, Wasil is the commander of American Legion Post #683.
He and Amelia have three sons and two grandchildren.
Simone was born and raised in Brooklyn and drafted into the Army in January 1952 at the height of the Korean War.
He was assigned to serve with the 780th Field Artillery Battalion as a gun mechanic, which was enveloped in heavy fighting against communist forces in the infamous Heartbreak Ridge region of North Korea.
When Simone returned home at the conclusion of the war in July 1953, he worked as an insurance and real estate broker for 40 years, in addition to a six-year stint with Chrysler.
In honor of his service, Simone was given two bronze service stars, a United Nations Service Medal and a National Defense Service Medal.
Simone has lived with his wife, Rose, in Glendale for the last 57 years. They have three children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Both Simone and Wasil are affiliated with the Knights of Columbus.